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Murderer truckie may be released

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Murderer truckie may be released

Douglas Crabbe.

A notorious murderer serving life behind bars for killing five people by ploughing his truck into an outback hotel could be released into the WA community after being transferred to a Perth jail eight years ago.

Douglas John Edwin Crabbe becomes due for the first statutory review of his life sentence after serving his minimum 30 years behind bars on Sunday.

Crabbe drove his 25-tonne Mack truck into the bar of the Inland Hotel at Yulara in the Northern Territory early on August 18, 1983 after he was refused service because he was causing trouble.

He was convicted of five counts of murder at his first trial in 1984 before winning an appeal. He was convicted again after a retrial in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for each of the five counts.

Under NT law at the time, life sentences did not involve a non-parole period and meant the offender would serve their natural life without possibility of release.

But after changes to the law, Crabbe's sentence was converted to life with a minimum 30 years.

Evidence led in support of a successful application by prosecutors in 2004 to extend the non-parole period from a standard 25 years included a summary of the offences.

It described Crabbe driving at speed, around a blind bend, through a carpark, around a minibus and through a brick wall into the bar. "Leaving the engine running, he then got out of the truck, smiled down at one of his victims, stepped over some bodies and ran," an affidavit to the court said.

But the court also recognised Crabbe, who had at that time served 21 years, was "now deeply remorseful" and had made remarkable efforts to achieve his rehabilitation.

It is believed he was transferred to WA in 2005 to be close to family.

Lydia Hannah, one of 16 patrons who suffered serious injuries in the crash, urged Attorney-General Michael Mischin yesterday not to release Crabbe when Mr Mischin received a statutory report from the Prisoners Review Board.

"I think he should serve the sentence that he was originally given," she said. "This is a mass murderer, not a petty thief. I don't think that he should get out."

A spokeswoman said Mr Mischin had not yet received the report.

Crabbe's truck wedged into the NT pub. Picture: News Corp

Source: The West

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